The incident on Saturday when a group of lawyers took law into their own hands was, unfortunately, one of the many such that have been witnessed in the recent past. Only a few days ago, a group of lawyers beat up an undertrial facing a charge of assaulting a member of the black-coated brigade.
On November 10 last year, the Karnataka high court witnessed its worst moments when lawyers barged into the court of the chief justice, ransacked it and compounding their misbehaviour, locked up two judges in another court hall. If the judiciary had dealt with this unbridled hooliganism with the seriousness it deserved and sent to jail some of the offenders, we would perhaps not be witnessing repetition of such lawless behaviour at frequent intervals. Indeed, such incidents have been sullying the image of practitioners of law, which has never been incandescently bright.
Lawyers live by law. That they try to subvert an institution that is their bread and butter, if not mission as some may claim without much justification, indicates that there is more than a problem of anger management here. The profession is seen by many as a self-employment option that provides opportunities other than a mere livelihood, such as politics, for instance.
It is this attraction that lures many undesirable elements into the profession. Hundreds of so-called law colleges have also sprung up, turning out half-baked legal practitioners, unschooled in civility, leave alone in law. The bar associations, hungry for numbers, register them as members without adequate initiation. The efforts of the higher judiciary to lay down stricter guidelines for the study of law have not been very effective. The result is what we are witnessing of late.
More than the general populace, it is the seniors in the judicial fraternity who should be concerned about the trend of extra-judicial methods of conflict resolution that many of their juniors are indulging in. The silence of the judiciary in this regard is deafening. Are they too afraid of the collective violence by lawyers? Perhaps the events of last November are weighing on their minds. Such passivity by the Bench will only encourage more acts of mob violence by lawyers, eroding public faith in law. If the lawyers themselves resort to the rule of the street, who needs courts?